When an innocent woman has been controlled for her entire life, her ignorance to the outside world will be the factor that leads her into a rebellious frenzy to regain her honour and certainty. Without certainty, no individual would find a purpose in waking up every morning and continuing with the endless battles that life constantly gives. A woman who lives on without honour will eventually lose all faith in herself and give in to the darkest of days. When the hardest circumstances take place in a woman’s life and she refuses to give up on herself, her attitude is this way because she is certain of her purpose, she is conscious of her worth. In William Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”, a young woman named Ophelia struggles to reach for her honour and certainty as the men around her have always had the final say on her actions and emotions. With the rules and restrictions that have been established, she pushes forward and tries to restore the honour she lost from Hamlet and the certainty that she has a place in this world. She is unable to withstand the tyranny so she then succumbs altogether with her madness.
Through a search for honour, a young woman will try to adapt to the wishes of others, become a tool for use and when she is finally worn out, the rejection she will face will be the equivalent of a thousand rose thorns piercing through her heart. Ophelia is an obedient and very well-mannered child when she is spoken to by her father, Polonius, and her older brother, Laertes. As a young woman of the middle class, Ophelia excels at pleasing the people around her and through her kind acts, she receives acclaim from her father. However, with Hamlet, she becomes lost in love, and mindlessly gives herself up to him in exchange for his praise to her. The difference between the “familial honour” and “the lover’s honour” is justified by the reason behind the actions that have been done. Polonius, Ophelia’s dad, has begged his daughter, in Act 1 scene 1, not to affiliate herself with a man like Hamlet. At first she is reluctant but she knows that he father knows best and she would be better off by obeying his commands as opposed to falling in love and being damaged by any evitable dangers. In this case, honour is withheld by Ophelia since she knows that by pleasing her father, she is sure to be praised by her father. For any woman, being acknowledged by a man who she truly cares for is the same as being given the whole world on a golden platter, as for Ophelia, it is every time her father or Hamlet approach her to caress her and honour her actions. However, the moment Hamlet decided to confront Ophelia and deny his love for her, she started seeking certainty. A young woman like her could not withstand the verbal abuse; she did not have any emotions to fall back to since her certainty had been crushed by Hamlet’s words against her so she settled for madness in depression. Since she could not believe that she had lost her right to receive acclamation from Hamlet, she decided to fallback to depression and madness; madness because she had lost the meaning to her own life after being given no honour and depression since it was the other emotion that let her revert to acceptance. When Ophelia’s father died, she could not find anyone who would be able to give her honour like he had– the honour died with Polonius, and as a young weakened woman, she could no longer find her purpose and gave in to the salary of sin: death.
Certainty is constantly being pursued as it is the act of knowing that there are brighter days after the tempest and knowing that there is a purpose to every life. As previously explored, Ophelia’s honour was lost after her father’s fall and died directly after her lover’s rejection. With no certainty, a young woman will see herself as a useless object only used for entertainment. A lot of women make the mistake of giving themselves up for a man when the man is also imperfect and human as they are. Oblivious young women fall in love with handsome men who are rich in the dough but poor in the soul. The danger with that is, the innocent young woman is satisfied with materialistic items that live longer than she could but the man manipulates her and he becomes her source of certainty when in reality, he is planning a farce to reject her. Ophelia has done the same mistake where she believes that a man who has slept with her, Hamlet, is the reason why she is able to go on and she finds her value in him therefore her certainty is reassured. Little does she know, her father is murdered by her lover in his own unstableness but she still finds reason within Hamlet to live on even through this tragedy. Ophelia receives her love from the men that surround her since she had no mother figure to support her in the growth. When all of the men who have guaranteed her certainty suddenly leave her, she goes mad since she has no way to go to reassure her place in the world. Since the only person she can follow in her loneliness is herself, she tries to pave her own way into her life and the mistake with that decision is: she has never been able to make decisions on her own, she has always had someone there to hold her hand and control her therefore she is a complete amateur in this game of life. Since all of her certainty is gone, she goes insane and is unable to function as a young woman who could have potentially been someone great and successful. Even in her madness, she still remembers her faith as an anchor as they are the last words she sings in her song of madness: God be wi’ ye.
Though Ophelia has been regarded as a puppet by all of the men who have surrounded her, she found certainty within them and wanted her honour to be restored. With the death of all of these qualities, her end also came about and she never found peace or the love that could have influenced the search for these qualities: honour and certainty.